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INTRODUCTION
OVERVIEW
ESTABLISHING A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
LESSON 1: THE PROBLEM WE STILL LIVE WITH?
LESSON 2: THE ROAD TO BROWN
LESSON 3: WITH ALL DELIBERATE SPEED
LESSON 4: FIFTY YEARS LATER
LESSON 5: BRINGING IT HOME
LESSON 6: BUILDING ALLIANCES
 
EXPLORING THE PROMISE OF BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
Introduction
 

    "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

These celebrated words from the Brown v. Board of Education Majority Opinion ushered in an unprecedented era of civil rights and school restructuring in the United States. In 1954, when this judgment was written, not a single black student attended a majority white public school in the American South. In 1988, after a generation of desegregation efforts, more than 43 percent of southern black students attended majority white schools.

Looking back on the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, there is much to commemorate. However, this progress should not mask the great inequalities that still exist. The desegregation gains that peaked in 1988 have since eroded, and today just over 30 percent of black students attend majority white schools, the lowest figure in 35 years.

According to a recent study from the Harvard University Civil Rights Project, white students-the most segregated group in the nation's public schools-attend schools, on average, where 80 percent of the student body is white1 . Black and Latina/o students attend schools, on average, that are more than 85 and 95 percent non-white respectively. A related study indicates that the vast majority of intensely segregated minority schools face conditions of concentrated poverty, which are "powerfully related to both school opportunities and achievement levels.2"

In 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King said, "We must face the tragic fact that we are far from the promised land in the struggle for a desegregated society." Regrettably these words still apply today, and serve as a call to reimagine the aspirations of Brown and strive toward more integrated and equitable school communities.


1 A Multiracial Society with Segregated Schools: Are We Losing the Dream? By Erica Frankenberg, Chungmei Lee, and Gary Orfield, The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, January 2003.

2 Brown at 50: King's Dream or Plessy's Nightmare? By Gary Orfield and Chungmai Lee, The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, January 2004.









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